Washington D.C., Oct 1, 2019 / 10:00 am (CNA).- The Department of Health and Human Services announced on Monday that is allocating $33.6 million in Title X funding previously earmarked for Planned Parenthood and other entities that have withdrawn from the program. In total, 50 groups will receive family planning grants which would otherwise have gone to abortion providers.
HHS said that the funding was for the 2019 fiscal year, and was being reallocated after it was “relinquished” by groups refusing to comply with the administration’s new regulations on abortion funding.
Title X is a federal program created in 1970 under the Public Health Service Act that provides family planning funding to clinics around the country, for contraceptives and other family planning services. The act stipulated that the funds could not be used for “programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”
Regulations issued in 1988 by the Reagan administration forbade abortion referrals and co-location with abortion facilities by grant recipients, but the Clinton administration later reversed this requirment, insisting that Title X recipients refer patients for abortions.
In 2019, Trump administration issued the Title X Protect Life Rule, which went into effect in August, requiring Title X recipients to not co-locate with abortion clinics and to not refer for abortions.
Other requirements include more reporting on subrecipients and referral agencies; mandatory protocols for clinics to protect survivors of sexual assault, as well as mandatory reporting requirements for such cases. The rules also encourage communication between minors and their parents on family planning matters.
Planned Parenthood sued the administration to overturn the rule, but after the court refused to grant an injunction, they announced on August 19 that it was leaving the program altogether rather than comply with the new rule. The group called the prohibition of abortion referrals a “gag rule,” and said it had been “forced” out of the Title X program. The new rule bans abortion referrals but does not say that abortion could not be discussed at clinics receiving Title X funding; such counseling had to be “non-directive.”
Grantees that have left the Title X program include Planned Parenthood affiliates in the Great Northwest & Hawaiian Islands, Southern New England, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Northern New England, Greater Ohio, Illinois, and Utah.
State health departments or agencies in Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont have also walked out of the program.
Recipients of the more than $33 million in funding include various state and local health departments and clinics around the country.
Planned Parenthood is still challenging the Protect Life Rule in court, with oral arguments in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals taking place on Sept. 23.
There have also been efforts in the Senate to insert amendments into government funding bills that would repeal the Protect Life Rule, and other protections against taxpayer funding of abortion or organizations promoting abortion.
Earlier in September Sen. Patti Murray (D-Wash.) tried to insert an amendment repealing the Protect Life Rule into an appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and other agencies. The effort resulted in the bill being pulled from consideration.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) tried to insert an amendment into another funding bill that would have repealed the Mexico City Policy, but it was blocked; she succeeded in increasing family planning funding of international organizations, and funding the UNFPA, in the bill that was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday.
Although contraceptives are a part of the Title X program, one Catholic-backed pro-life health care network in California does not provide contraceptives and still receives Title X funding.
Obria Group is a network of clinics serving low-income women and men that provides “comprehensive care” including pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, breast and cervical cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and full prenatal care.
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